Clara Cole is the International Foundation for Electoral Systems’ (IFES) Africa regional director. Cole is a governance and democracy professional with 20 years of international experience working on a broad range of governance issues. Her program specialties include electoral management, election observation, civic and voter education, civil society development and women’s political participation.
Before joining IFES, Cole was the head of Regulatory Support at the United Kingdom’s Electoral Commission leading the team that provided regulatory guidance, advice and support to UK political parties and campaigners.
Prior to the Electoral Commission, she was the political adviser for the Electoral Support Section at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London. In this role, she advised on and facilitated the Secretariat’s activities in promoting democracy and good electoral practices across the Commonwealth. In addition to planning and deploying more than 25 international election observation missions, she designed and managed technical assistance projects for electoral management bodies, including The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Malawi and the Seychelles. She also led on the development and delivery of knowledge products covering a range of subjects such as voter registration, the impact of new media on elections and campaign finance.
Before joining the Secretariat, Cole worked with a range of organizations designing and managing dynamic multi-dimensional programs. Specifically, she worked on elections and human rights issues in Cameroon with Freedom House. At AECOM International Development, she managed the USAID/OTI-funded SWIFT II Sudan STAND project, building the capacity of local government officials, civil society and communities to promote peace and stability as well as mitigate natural resource-based conflict in Sudan. At the National Democratic Institute, she managed legislative strengthening, elections and civil society programs in Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
Cole holds a master's degree in international peace and conflict resolution from American University and an undergraduate degree in political science and philosophy from Loyola University in Maryland.